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« A Quick Summary of the Bible (Video) | Main | Was John Describing Something He Saw, or Was He Trying to Make a Point? »

April 23, 2013


So, I guess this person who wants to debunk Christianity doesn't understand Christianity.

Anyone who has a passing familiarity with the bible should be familiar with the fact that God does care.

Unless, of course, it can be shown that there is a massive misinterpretation of all the passages having to do with Baal actually being descriptions of approval. I don't think that the description of the contest between Elijah and the priests of Baal can be defended as little more than a bit of light hearted fun.

The challenge is a special case of the problem of evil.

Incorrect religious belief, heterodoxy, is the evil in this case. The argument then concludes that God, having all the power, knowledge and wisdom needed to prevent this particular brand of evil, is either not good in this respect (that is, He does not care about orthodoxy), or He doesn't exist at all.

Like the more general problem of evil, there are two forms of the problem. First, that it is conceptually impossible for a good God, One that cares about orthodoxy, to exist given the mere existence of evil in the form of heterodoxy. Second, the existence of heterodoxy counts as evidence against the existence of a God that cares about orthodoxy. What is more, the 'evidential' problem of evil concludes, this evidence is sufficient for us to say that such a God is unlikely.

There are familiar answers to the conceptual problem of evil (due to Nelson Pike, Alvin Plantinga and others) that, I think, settle the matter. The basic point is that a good Omnipotent God is compatible with the existence of evil in the world provided that God has a morally sufficient reason to allow the evil to exist. Once we understand this, there are actually any number of morally sufficient reasons we might provide.

And given the traditional conceptual arguments for the existence of God, it seems as though we don't even need to know what the morally sufficient reason is. Since we know God exists, we know there must be such a reason.

On the 'evidential' problem of evil in the form of heterodoxy. The answer is much the same as it is to the evidential problem of evil in general. To wit, the challenger is claiming a position of awareness that is really impossible to credit. Somehow he claims to know that there is just too much heterodoxy in the world to make the existence of God likely.

But, of course, he's not in a position to know anything of the sort.

Now, looking just at the relative proportions of orthodoxy to heterodoxy we find in the world, Christians are in no better position to judge whether the balance favors God.

There's probably only one person that could have enough knowledge to make the determination of whether an orthodoxy-loving God is likely given the evidence of the amount of orthodoxy vs. the amount of heterodoxy. That person, of course, is God Himself.

But Christians have other positive arguments for the truth of Christianity, and these are sufficient for us to trust the Bible. And the Bible does teach that God loves and demands orthodox belief.

If freewill can be "tweaked so humans believe what ever the gods want" we are reduced to mere robots.
God has higher plans than that for us.

The problem can be dispensed with by a simple renunciation of the postmodernist view that "a" and "non-A" are equally valid expressions, both to be acceted. We have to acknowledge that if we view "religion" as an explorable topic, we could do well to define tenets of false religion and true religion. Comparative religious studies have often sought out the areas of similarity and agreement. But a good study should ferret out the wide dissimilarities and work towards a discovery of what true religion is, and what human whims in disguise as religion.

In doing this, a few things to remember.

1. True religion is not established by democratic procedures (on the topic of "sin" all in favor say "aye." All opposed, "nay." This gets us nowhere other than making religion a form of popularity contest).

2. True religion cannot be derived when humanistic principles seek out divine sentiments (much of what is wrong in the history of Chrisianity comes when humanistic or political concerns are used to extend the "kingdom of God.").

3. Look for unique concepts in religious expression (much can be made of "grace" and "forgiveness" in the realms of faith).

4. Look for a tendency for God to interact with us, rather than we trying to find a path to the divine.

5. Look for more ideas of how good religion stands out when time is taken to seriously find the true path. If nothing else, this challenge will draw alot of response from posters.

Why wouldn't God care? If I make something and someone else gets the credit and the praise for it, I am going to get upset. Why would God be any different?

He created everything we see and people (who aren't Christians) are attributing His creation to everything from chance to Allah.

One final thought--considering the 1st Commandment is one against us having any other gods before Him, I'd say God cares at least a little about what we believe.

It is a bit hard to tell what this is getting at. But I guess it is meant to be an internal critique of the Christian view (as WisdomLover said, like the problem of evil).

And when an internal critique is done, the objector takes the presuppositions of the view and tries to show, that given the premises of their own view, it can be shown to be contradictory, arbitrary, etc.

So I would probably ask why he thinks that HIS interpretation of religious diversity is to be accepted over others. After all, religious diversity can also be explained, given Christian presuppositions as the result the noetic effects of sin. But of course, he will then say that he doesn't like, or doesn't accept this interpretation, because it does not comport with his worldview, because in his worldview there is no such thing as sin. What he is doing is interpreting the fact of religious diversity subject to his non-Christian presuppositions. But of course, sin DOES comport with Christianity. The Christian may simply interpret religious diversity subject to HIS presuppositions, and the objector would need to tell us why his interpretation is to be favored over the others without begging the question. He would then have to make an appeal to evidence, and this would no longer be an internal critique, but an external one. And that is a different sort of criticism. If he, on the other hand, insists that sin cannot be the explanation because Christianity is false, well he has begged the very question at issue. You see, this criticism fails as a critique of Christianity, precisely because it is NOT a critique of the full fledged Christian position, but rather some sort of generic theism, because religious diversity can easily be explained given Christian presuppositions. If it WERE a critique of Christianity, then it would have to take into account the noetic effects of sin, in which case any alleged inconsistency or arbitrariness falls away.

Now, if the objector wishes to change his tact, he may then simply argue against theism generally. But then the criticism ceases to be about Christianity as a full fledged view of reality.

So for this criticism to work, it would need to be spelled out a bit more. Right now I can’t quite see the argument clearly. Maybe it is my lack of understanding though. It’s certainly a possibility. But until then I don’t see it as much of a problem, unless I am missing something.

Loftus makes perfect sense to me.

but I wouldn't take a deductive tone "any god worth..." propose a conclusion based on this one factor.

We are able to read people by their actions.

We depend on this ability.

To say the the range of religious diversity we see doesn't weigh against an able deity that cares about belief you must engage in special pleading.

What special pleading?

Acceptance of 'the traditional conceptual arguments for the existence of God' over the objections to them.

These arguments aren't for convincing people; they are for sale to those with sagging confidence.

Acceptance of 'the traditional conceptual arguments for the existence of God' over the objections to them.
How is this special pleading? Must every objection to an argument be accepted and the argument abandoned? Or is it only Christian arguments that must thus give way? (Irony intended.)
These arguments aren't for convincing people; they are for sale to those with sagging confidence.
If I have sagging confidence in the truth of a proposition, then I hear an argument and I find that my confidence in the proposition has thereby been bolstered, how is it that I have not just been convinced by the argument?

Isn't the very purpose that you attribute to the traditional arguments nothing else than a special case of the purpose you deny that they have?

And it isn't really just a special case. What of people, such as C.S. Lewis or STR's own JWW, whose confidence has sagged so far that it has lapsed into unbelief, or whose confidence started out so saggy that it never even rose to the level of belief in the first place. Are you suggesting that, contrary to their claims, they were not convinced by classic apologetic arguments that at least some of the claims of Christianity are true? Are they lying about that?

Here's my interpretation: Your claim is yet another example of an intemperate and doctrinaire atheist slogan. It sounds good, but just a moment of reflection shows that it doesn't really make any sense.

Deception, Dark, Blind, Lightless, void of truth, Sin, Death, and so forth are mentioned so often in scripture on the condition of Man that one wonders what on earth this whole thing is all about. As Kevin stated, "You see, this criticism fails as a critique of Christianity, precisely because it is NOT a critique of the full fledged Christian position, but rather some sort of generic theism".

This whole thing is like a negative critique of Formal Atheism because it (Formal Atheism) fails to account for why God put two trees in Eden instead of seventeen.


It's not even un-intelligent. It's just silly.

Maybe your point, Ron, was just to go back to the tired argument from religious diversity. We all reject Jupiter and Ishtar worship, you wise, bright atheists just go us one better by rejecting YHWH worship too.

Because we accept one theistic position and reject the others, that's supposed to be special pleading.

That is, however, nonsense.

Special pleading is when you accept an argument on one subject but reject the same kind of argument with identically plausible premises on another subject.

I do not believe that there exist the same types of arguments with identically plausible premises for Ishtar worship as there are for YHWH worship. The arguments for YHWH worship are all better for all sorts of reasons that even you, were you honest about it, should accept.

In particular, those conceptual arguments for the existence of YHWH can't even get started with Ishtar. Case in point, there never has been any suggestion, even by Ishtar worshipers, that Ishtar is a being without a beginning. As such, for example, there just isn't a Kalam Cosmological argument for Ishtar worship.

This is not special pleading, but the recognition that YHWH worshipers have arrows in their conceptual quiver that Ishtar worshipers lack.

"These arguments aren't for convincing people; they are for sale to those with sagging confidence."

Funny, I always had the same view of those who meet every single argument with the response that because that argument on it's own does not deliver a knock out blow, there are no valid arguments.


No argument need deliver a knockout blow.

But, to qualify as evidence for the claim it's supposed to support an argument must overcome all objections.

Religious diversity weighs against Christianity and other faiths. Not strongly. Not as a knockout blow. But it weighs against.



Ya. Looks like you want to know what I mean by 'special pleading'.

It's just that these arguments (Name it.) are of such a quality and face such objections that you gotta really want to believe to have much use of them.

And ArthurK,

Who do you know who meets every single argument with the response that because the argument on its own does not delive a knock out blow, there are no valid arguments?

That would be a VERY STRANGE WAY to conclude that 'there are no valid arguments'.

Religious diversity weighs against Christianity and other faiths. Not strongly. Not as a knockout blow. But it weighs against.
In some sense, perhaps this is true. But it, again, suffers from the fatal flaw that all 'evidential' arguments from evil suffer.

The argument can't get to its conclusion unless you can say not only that the evil counts as evidence against God. You have to be able to say that it's just too much evidence against God.

And how on earth are you ever going to get there?

The problem of evil is not a problem for theism in general and Christianity specifically. That is the problem with this discussion.

In fact, what Evil is via Privation and Isolation of the Created Self from Light and Love Himself actually lends quite a bit of philosophical, theological, and rational support and credibility to that odd Christian peculiarity wherein the eternally sacrificed self comes in as a cross-roads between Good and Evil, God and Man, Sanity and Insanity. We find, actually, that all these vectors are running quite fast, not away from the very substrate of that peculiar cross, but, in fact, towards Him.
Anyone who thinks this notions of “dark” and “deception” and “evil” are somehow evidence against what we find in Eden and on Calvary are simply speaking from ignorance about those very strong vectors we find emanating out of both Eden and Calvary towards the God thereof.

Kevin was right. This is an argument from the skeptic’s own Self-Focused invention of some imaginary faith, which, again, being Self Focused, is but one more piece of evidence towards and in support of the only God within Whom we find love’s Self/Other set of doors into and out of Light. The skeptics rage, at least on this point of evil, merely adds and adds all day long to the faith of those who know this particular God whose name is Love.

any god worth their title could tweak things so that humans believed whatever they wanted them to believe if belief was important to them...

I'd say the challenger's intuition is spot on, because that's precisely what God has done. According to the Bible, every Christian's faith is a gift, freely given by God:

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9)

The other odd problem here is a charge of “If God Cares He would do X”. Again, what and who and how God loves, as patterned in the substrates found in Eden and on Calvary, and in that first Tree’s long and painful task-master called the Law between the two, and in that New Creation from that other Tree, the word Care and the word Do are found yet again as evidence towards this God in Whom we find Self/Other within Love’s embrace and as such these two words (Care, Do) are not merely capable of supporting the weight of this odd God named Love, but they actually count as evidence for Him, and, even further, they actually explain this world better than the Skeptic’s Self-focused imaginary faith. We find then that the God named Love in relation to Evil has an internal coherency and an external coherency while the Skeptic’s Self-focused imaginary faith lacks both of these coherencies.


The argument can't get to its conclusion
As I said (or meant to say)
[B]ut I wouldn't take a deductive tone "any god worth..." [or] propose a conclusion based on this one factor.

We wonder which God the skeptic here is referring to? The attempted logic here obviously is not aimed against the Christian account of things. Perhaps the skeptic here can, please, explain just why atheism fails to account fully for God's placement of two trees of door-ways in Eden instead of some other number? Surely if atheism were true it would explain this act of God; but it does not explain this. By the skeptic's logic here in these posts we can conclude that "therefore" this failure of atheism to account for this act of God counts as evidence against atheism.


What is even more entertaining is that the skeptic here is invoking a moral framework by which to account for what he claims god-ought-do. Of course, internally he has nothing but the fantasy of his own whim by which to build this moral framework which he will tell us, in some other post, is not an objective reality, but mere fantasy. He thus uses a non-reality (his own fantasy of some non-real moral framework) by which to argue about what any real-god-would-do.


Just for fun let's change the quote from:

"What religious diversity shows us is that, if gods exist, they don't care what humans believe... any god worth their title could tweak things so that humans believed whatever they wanted them to believe if belief was important to them, and would have no one to blame but themselves if they were disappointed.... So either no gods exist, or they are fine with religious wars, misinterpretation, conflicting beliefs, and so forth."


"What sociological and psychological diversity shows us is that, if parents exist, they don't care what their children believe... any parent worth their salt could parent in such a way that their children believed whatever they wanted them to believe if belief was important to them, and so parents have no one to blame but themselves if they were disappointed.... So either parents don't exist, or they are fine providing their children with facts and rationale and then allowing them to use their free will to agree, reject, distort, and so forth."

It is simple.

Look at what he says.

The video answer to the challenge asks, “Is it logically possible to create a morally free agent and at the same time ensure that they behave or choose in a particular way?”

That is a good question. It would seem the answer is no at some point. Of course, that in no way means that the Isolation and Privation of The-Self (what we like to call ‘Evil’) could possibly never be known by Man, for The-Self is but that very Distinct which we find within the Triune God. There is no GodAnd. No. Some things will not be otherwise. Whether we dive into The-Other Who simply is Uncreated Love and therein taste, and fully so, from top to bottom, of Actual Actuality’s I-You-We which just is Self-Other, or, whether we dive into The-Self and therein discover Love’s Rescue, His Embrace, and by such a Ransom taste, and fully so, from top to bottom, of Actuality’s I-You-We which just is Self-Other, man will know, or, will taste, or, will see, and, in seeing, in beholding, become as He is. In His Image. Whole by Parts, Parts by Whole, whichever for –tis no God-And. That cannot be otherwise, for Power has declared of W1, this World, the only possible world which houses an Agent, a Beloved, fashioned in Love’s Image, “Let Us create man in Our Image”. Other worlds are possible. Only, they would necessarily lack an Agent, a Beloved, in Love’s Image. The whole problem with this whole show is that the Perfect-1, the Only God, the One-Actual-Actuality (there can be only 1 actual actuality) Who just Is-Love has chosen, for whatever reason, to beget yet more love. Yet even this it seems cannot be otherwise (perhaps), for this is just what love does there within the embrace of Two, who, within and by embrace, beget yet that Third Distinct, which is its eternally begotten Child, the Singular-We, of which it is said, -Tis both I and You. This is just what Love does. Love begets yet more of itself, and this forever, ad infinitum. Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self is forever poured out and therein Love’s Beloved is forever filled up. This is why He tells us, “Drink of Me and you will never thirst again”. For by drinking such Living Water as His peculiar eternally emptying-out and His peculiar eternally filling-up it is not that one will never thirst again, but, in all truth, one cannot thirst again. I wonder sometimes, that there never has been a first there within Him of such things as these, and I think that all roads, that is to say, All Trees, are forever fully Actual there within Actual-Actuality Himself. Children do run. Oh, do they like to run. Of course, there comes a time, a place, somehow, I do not know how, where Knows-Not is no longer Mercy’s call from atop His Tree, atop His Throne there with Love’s Crown of Thorns, for where Love’s Light shines, darkness is no more. If it will be Love, then one must shout We!, You and not I! Her and not Me! and forgo that fatal call of the Self which so delights in I! Yes I and not You! Me and not Her!.

Love is quite another shout after all, and to the uttermost: "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine!" Song of Solomon 6:3

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